Dear COPD Coach,
I have a question I hope you can help me with. I am 52, have had asthma since I was very young, and was diagnosed with COPD several years ago. I see an asthma/allergy doctor and my GP doctor says he thinks that is OK. Should I be going to a pulmonary doctor? I take a spirometry test often and my numbers seem to be falling. Both of my brothers have died because of pulmonary problems. One died 6 years ago with a rare lung disease; he was 51. The other died last year from respiratory failure; he was 52.
I feel jinxed coming up on my 53rd birthday in April.
–Am I Doing Enough?
Your letter is important in a couple respects.
First of all, with an obvious history of COPD in your family, one test you need to take is for Alpha-1. Alpha-1 is a genetic cause of COPD, right now the only one that we are aware of. There is a treatment for Alpha-1 that can dramatically slow the progression of the disorder. For more information on Alpha-1 and how to get a free test kit, a test kit visit the Alpha-1 Foundation or the Alpha-1 Association.
We must also pay close attention to the he second point you make, which is that you can have asthma and allergies and also have COPD. While your allergies and asthma symptoms might be managed by your allergy doctor, it never hurts to also involve a pulmonary doctor. If you feel this might be beneficial, ask your doctor for a referral!
As for your spirometry results falling, make sure that you chart your test results and look at them over a longer time period. Lung testing gives you a snapshot of how your lungs are functioning at the time of the test. The results can be different with such factors as time of day, weather or season, your general health, and especially in your case if your asthma or allergies are presenting more symptoms than normal (for you).
With COPD, it is important to get as much information as possible in order to get the best results. Relying on the expertise of specialized professionals will get you the best information. Remember, your best advocate is you, so it is up to you to make sure that all aspects of your health are being treated, by the health care professionals best able to offer you the best treatment!
Hope this helps, and be sure to stay in touch!
The COPD Coach
Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.
If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us email@example.com. We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to any of the following: COPD Coach, Caregiver Coach, COPD Doctor or COPD RT.